We could be a good student-teacher match, if …
… you fit the basic criteria outlined on this page,
including being at least 17 years old (apart from in exceptional circumstances), and able to meet Mon-Fri 9:30-6:30. Bear in mind that while it can be useful to meet in my studio, we can also do good work using Skype meetings (so you could be anywhere in the world!).
… you want to balance improvisatory, experimental approaches with working systematically.
Learning to write songs requires willingness to experiment and go outside our comfort zone, ability to take feedback seriously, patience, ability to self-organise, attention to detail, willingness to edit and reshape work we have already done.
… as a lyricist, you are willing to immerse yourself in a wide range of language experiences:
reading a wide range of literature (poems, novels, short stories, play, film scripts); attending live performances (singers, poets, plays, music theatre); listening to performed words (CD, radio: poems, plays, short stories); experimenting with different forms of writing (poems, articles, short stories, dialogue, lyrics). You have an ‘ear’ for music, even if you yourself don’t play an instrument. You are willing to learn something about the singer’s craft, and even try your hand at some basic singing yourself (though not necessarily in public!). You are willing to understand something about the job of the composer and producer, and the listeners you are writing for.
… as a composer / writer of music, you are willing to immerse yourself in a wide range of musical experiences:
listening to a wide range of music (pop, rock, folk, jazz, opera, ballad, country, world music, classical, metal etc); learning about instruments and new sounds; understanding the singer’s craft; learning some basic singing skills for yourself; learning some basic music theory; exploring melody, harmony, rhythm, arranging, music production. You are also willing to understand something of the lyricist’s craft, and the instrumentalists, singers, producers and listeners you are writing for.
… if you want to create music, you are confident and reliable musically.
You don’t necessarily have to be able to read music, but you have basic musical proficiency e.g. you can either sing or play an instrument with reasonable skill (e.g. well enough to do it in front of friends).
… you have already experimented with songwriting and have some examples (music, lyrics, or both) you can bring to an initial consultation.
If you have music, you are able to communicate it, either a) with a recorded audio track, b) in conventional musical notation, at least as a lead sheet (melody, lyrics, harmony) c) simultaneously singing and playing a rough version.
… you organise yourself to practise songwriting skills regularly.
You are willing to work on agreed, manageable assignments between sessions and put in regular study time away from your coach/teacher.
… you are open to receiving detailed, honest and constructive feedback
on all the work you bring to the teacher/coach.
Some of the core values of our work together are:
Craftsmanship – Commitment to shaping every aspect of a song to the highest possible quality, which often means many re-writes, and developing a song over sometimes a very long time
Authenticity – Saying something ‘true’ in a song (emotionally, psychologically) – not writing in platitudes, generalisations – finding our own voice (musically and lyrically)
Continual learning – Commitment to constant development of our skills and knowledge, learning from and with others, and learning from our own setbacks (and successes!)
Purpose beyond fame or profit – Writing because it is meaningful for us to do so, whether or not our songs become commercially successful or popular
Respect for listeners – We don’t have to agree with what listeners say about our music or lyrics, and we don’t have to please those who hear our songs (taste is personal, after all), but, pragmatically, we have to look closely at our songs if people don’t want to listen to them a second time. Songwriting is also about communicating, and making a connection with listeners!
Compassion and respect – Towards ourselves, towards other musicians, and other songwriters, regardless of their actual ability (and regardless of how they behave towards us)
If you want to enquire about help with your songwriting, it really helps me if you write something about your background in an email, or, better still, simply use fill in and submit the contact form on this website. This often works better than our playing endless ‘phone tag’ with messages.